Published May 23, 2021
If you want a camera that offers more advanced features than typical budget options, there are several products available in the $500-1000 price range that should fit the bill.
The cameras in this buying guide tend to offer more direct controls than cheaper models, better autofocus systems, and some feature 4K video capture as well. Some of them are easy to pick up and use, while others require a bit more work to get the hang of.
Point-and-shoot: Sony a6100
In addition to taking great photos, the a6100 has one of the simplest and most powerful autofocus systems we’ve tested, especially in this class of camera. Selecting your subject is easy, and the camera’s ability to track moving people is phenomenal.
The a6100 has a selfie-friendly flip-up touchscreen and an electronic viewfinder of average quality. Burst shooting tops out at 11 fps with continuous autofocus.
Where the a6100 falls short is in terms of usability and video. It’s not the most engaging camera to use, with cluttered controls and confusing menus, but the auto mode and simple, powerful autofocus mean it’s a great point-and-shoot. On the video side, though there’s plenty of detail, there’s a lot of rolling shutter and a sizable crop when shooting 4K/30p video (the latter isn’t an issue at 24p). That said, the camera’s AF system can work as well for video as it does for stills.
More control: Fujifilm X-S10
The X-S10 puts more control at your fingertips than the a6100, with front and rear dials for taking control over exposure and a joystick to position the autofocus point. It’s a hands-on photographic experience that’s a match for the camera’s classic SLR-style design, but there’s also a fully articulated screen to allow waist-level shooting and video.
The other major benefit the Fujifilm offers is in-body stabilization, which makes it easier to get sharp photos and steady video footage in a range of circumstances. It can shoot at up to 20 frames per second but can’t match the Sony for autofocus power and simplicity: AF is generally good but its subject tracking isn’t as dependable, so you’ll need to work a little harder to keep the AF on your subject.
Video is good, with detailed 4K at up to 30p with no crop and well-controlled rolling shutter. There are also headphone and mic sockets for optimizing audio, too. But the Fujifilm’s most compelling feature is its range of Film Simulation color modes, which offer a wide choice of attractive ‘looks’ for your photos and video, without the need for filters and additional processing.
We’ve picked our two winners above, but there are several other cameras that fit into the to $500-1000 price range, many of which are also worth consideration. We’ve listed them all out below with detailed breakdowns of their features and performance:
* This camera has not been fully reviewed and is not eligible for an award.